Here it is, the elaborate and final report of a week in Alpe d’Huez to ride the Megavalanche. I promise I won’t mention the Mega (unless with good reason) again for at least 6 months.
This years Mega: Pour moi au ci, the terror, the stuff that broke, the helicopter ride, the pizza’s and much more.
Pour moi au ci…
We departed on saturday, expecting traffic-mania. Instead we almost drove up to Alpe d’Huez in one stretch, but slept in a hotel just below Lyon instead. We arrived at Alpe d’Huez around 11 am the next day and got on our bikes that afternoon to ride the qualifier-track to AdH and onto the DH track (you can’t even call it DH) for some bumps ‘n berms.
Photo by Nick Smith. Our favorite place, 7 out of 8 nights pizza.
Our friends arrived that afternoon and we had dinner at our favorite pizzaplace, the place we would have dinner at every night, except one. Orange-addict Bart opted for “pour moi au ci” after Jarno had ordered something he’d like to eat himself. It wasn’t the last time we heard that frase, in fact… say it to Bart now… and you better duck for cover.
Gimme gimme gimme…
No glacier on mondaymorning this time, but in stead a good haul towards Oz en Oison on the qualifier-track. Once we passed the highest point of the track, we got behind the ridge and where clear of the heavy winds. We had so much fun on the switchbacks, my friend Ollie was so stoked (we all where)! He had forgotten how much fun it was to ride in AdH! He shouted “terror!” at everything impressive or depressive to ride and soon we all shouted “terror!” at everyone and everything.
We had planned to travel to the Dôme des Rousses to ride the top part as well, but due to the wind, most higher telecabins where closed. We where lucky to get lifted back up to AdH. We where told that the wind was as fast as 80 km/h. Despite of that we took off to Allemond that afternoon to ride the bottom-half of the Megavalanche. It’s a real nice track to ride, has some awefull climbs in the woods, but it ends with the best bit of downhill of the whole Megavalanche.
At Allemond Ollie got stung by a special “terror-fly” that would give him grieve the rest of the week. We arrived at Oz just to found out that the lifts where closed… lucky for us they lifted us back up anyway. A slow and rocky ascent in terrible wind.
Photo by Nick Smith.
That same morning the neighbour in our apartment came up to me: “what’s your name?“, in a probebly typical and direct french/english tongue. I told him mine and he asked if I was Ollie’s girlfriend 🙂 and he introduced himself als “Olive”. We now had two Olivier’s and we wheren’t supposed to make a mistake, we had Ollie and we had Olive.
Olive rides an ultralight build Fusion Freak, and had just been on a (bike-) road trip the last 2 weeks with wife and daughter. Just one more Megavalanche to go and they would go home. Olive is a funny guy, he’d ride with us all week, had dinner with us almost everyday and he’s sence of humor and english… well you should have been there.
He would make a point to say “Pour moi au ci” to Bart multiple times a day. Or to remind him not to forget his VisAlp, multiple times a day (“Checklist Bart, checklist”). He confirmed my wish to buy a GravityDropper and rode down with the fastest of our group like water.
Jarno posing on the terror-glacier.
On tuesday we went up to the Pic Blanc and, as you may have read in previous reports, is was all terror! up there. So much mist… (“Where’s Bart?”) we couldn’t see past a few meters. Once we got of the glacier it was still amazingly cool riding downhill in the thick fog. And once that fog cleared… colours where allmost magical… When there’s mist and when there’s snow, there’s not much occasion for colour to be noticed. But once sunlight arrives… weirdly cool!
The stuff that broke…
My bro Patrick fell on his right hand, the hand he allways seems to hurt, and we called it a day in AdH. He had a rear-wheel that needed to be fixed (scratch that, he needed to buy a new wheel) and I had to fix my chainguide. Riding so hard on sunday, monday and tuesday made us take the day off on wednesday. Time to head up the mountain without a bike to watch the SprintAvalanche to Oz. It’s a nasty track, soooo fast, rocky and losts of turns… true terror! We stayed to watch Mick Hannah depart, expecting him to superhumanly fly or something, but alas… he didn’t.
SprintAvalanche to Oz.
On wednesday two other friends also arrived (and our little apartment was already crammed) at the scene and they got up the glacier on thursday, when it was clear and nearly warm. We ourselves tracked to Allemond and had maybe the greatest ride of the week. Fast and fun, we where so stoked!
Ollie had a terror-leg because of the terror-fly-bite and he couldn’t walk, much less ride. He installed himself at the registration-booth and many of you will have seen him of even spoken to him. His cunning eye for deception was welcomed by the girls of the organisation overthere, just as his talent to speak (or at least understand) many european languages.
Photo by Nick Smith. Ollie laying down the law.
It may have been to much terror… erm fun?
On thursdayafternoon we planned to ride the qually-track and for of us left and we lost Ilja in the first 10 minutes because of a nasty OTB-crash. Pat was tired too, but wasn’t going to give up. Untill Oz I had fun, but then we decided to scout the last (new) part of the qually. It had changed since I last rode it. We didn’t know where to finish, so we kept riding and riding.
In the bloody frikking hot sun I had to walk up the climbs that where killing me (the terror!). We ended at the road that went up to Oz, but you know… riding up isn’t my stong suit. Especially after this terror riding-day in that terror-hot weather. We trailed down and where tempted to wait at the busstop. But where afraid that the first bus wouldn’t come untill after 5 pm and it might be packed.
Photo by Patrick v. K. Nick and I, does it show I’m beat…?
We zagged down the mountain to Allemond and crunched the last few 100 meters or so in a sprint as the bus was allready waiting for us. Ours where the last bikes to fit in the trailer and we planted our tired asses in the bus. I was sooo tired. I would have liked to ride on friday, but in stead I planned another day of rest to recuporate from that buzy week.
On thursdayevening we went to a nice mountain-restaurant near Villard-Reculas. A place Ollie had discovered when we where there in 2004. The chef himself served the food and it was delicious! It may or may not have been worth it driving up there though, as the ride was on a slim mountainroad. Bearly one car fitted there, the sun was low, I couldn’t see (obviously) around the corner, it was terror after a day of riding terror!
You know the rest…
Oh well… the rest of the week… you know how that went down. It was a nice suprise to find out that Ollie was speaker at the Qually-race and I heard from many that they actually missed him on the glacier. Ollie explained the rules of engagement and promised everyone that didn’t play by this rules a good spanking (for women) of worse for men. It’s a good thing I didn’t remember to note the number of the guy that ran me over. He would have been in soooo much trouble.
Bart helping this youngster from Portugal get back on track.
On sunday some of us headed out to the glacier to ride the Megavalanche. Jarno, Nick and Olive qualified for the actual race and Silas, Ilja and Pat for the affinity. The last three wouldn’t actually ride though. The line of the telecabine toward the Pic Blanc was so long, they turned around and crashed themselves in the qually-track instead (no joke btw). Ollie finally got to ride again and watched the race from the grassberms near Villard-Reculas. Me and Bart headed on the trail just behind AdH towards the looking point to amaze ourselves on how fast these guys would ride. I still can’t wrap my mind around it, it’s not possible, it would mean they didn’t need more than 5-10 minutes on the glacier. The fastest I ever did was 15 minutes, and that was without the masses on a cold and fresh slope.
So… one last time…
That night we had dinner at the pizza-place again and I can only asume that Bart, Ollie and Jarno went back on monday too. I send Ollie a textmessage around dinertime… “Pour moi au ci Ollie“.